Equinox Gold has commenced mining activities in the Piaba deposit at its Aurizona gold mine in Brazil with the aim of achieving production and pouring first gold later this year.
The development follows mining contractor U&M Mineração e Construção’s mobilisation to the site last month.
Construction works are currently underway and the planned mining activities include the removal of waste from two locations in the Piaba pit, as well as the development of access roads in preparation for ore mining in the third quarter of this year.
Aurizona is set to become the company’s first operating mine and is expected to achieve an average annual production of 136,000 ounces (oz) of gold over the life of the mine.
Equinox Gold CEO Christian Milau said: “While the Aurizona operations team is focused on achieving production, Equinox Gold’s exploration team is focused on mine life extension and district-scale opportunities.
“A resource update is underway, incorporating near-mine mineralisation identified in the successful 2017 exploration programme.
“There is also approximately 4km of strike extension to be tested with upcoming exploration programmes, and a study is underway examining opportunities to develop the underground potential of this exceptional gold deposit.”
The company had completed 44% of the overall project and 61% of the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) activities at the end of last month.
A total of $43m from the project’s $146m construction budget has been spent to date, while an additional funding package of $76m was pledged at the end of last month.